It's not a secret that people living with HIV/AIDS are more likely to suffer from depression than the general population -- they are twice as likely, in fact. But a new study, conducted by researchers who are part of the CRANIum Study, sheds even more light on the issue. Researchers found that women living with HIV are more likely to suffer from depression than HIV-positive men.
According to the National AIDS Treatment Advocacy Project (NATAP), researchers found the following when analyzing data from more than 2,800 people living with HIV/AIDS:
- Roughly 18 percent of the women met the criteria for depression compared to slightly more than 14 percent of men.
- The percentage of women who met the criteria for depression did not differ significantly between those who were taking antiretrovirals (17.2 percent) and those who were not (20.8 percent).
- There was a significant difference in depression rates, antiretroviral use and gender: 10.6 percent of the men living with HIV who were not on AIDS meds met the criteria for depression versus 20.8 percent of the women living with HIV who were not on treatment.
- A higher proportion of women than men screened positive for anxiety (35.3 percent versus 32 percent).
- More women than men suffered from both depression and anxiety (13.9 percent versus 11.5 percent).
- Four percent of women and 4.4 percent of men who had a negative screen for depression in this study had been prescribed an antidepressant.
Of the 2,863 participants, more than 38 percent were women and nearly 79 percent of them had some history of ARV therapy. Also, 86 percent of the male participants were white, compared to 67 percent of the women, and on average the men in the study had been living with HIV for a shorter period (90 months versus 112 months).
In light of their findings, NATAP wrote that the study's researchers recommend there be a "strategy of regular screening for, and clinical management of, anxiety and depression for all female HIV-infected patients.”
These findings were released this month at the 2nd International Workshop on HIV and Women, held Jan. 9 and 10 in Bethesda, Md.
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